Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Museum economics and the Arizona Historical Society

The Phoenix newspaper recently had some articles and letters lamenting the loss of the $30 million Barry Goldwater Museum to Mesa.. The referenced article states that every dollar spent on a museum brings another seven dollars into the community.

Unless perhaps the museum is operated by the Arizona Historical Society. Does the huge and costly Marley Center Museum in Tempe draw any visitors?  The AHS is unwilling to release any attendance figures. The parking lot seems to always be empty, except for the dozen or so cars driven by staff members.

The 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (AKA Arizona Experience Museum) is even worse.  Separate line items in the AHS budget show the taxpayers are forking over nearly a half million dollars a year for this museum, but the building continues to stand locked and empty.

If museums can benefit a local economy, why are Arizona taxpayers supporting ones that do not?


Did city blow its shot at museum?
Eugen Scott
The Arizona Republic, Oct 29, 2012, page B1

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Arizona Historical Society living large in public trough?

On November 3, 2012, the AHS held their annual meeting at their extravagant Marley Center building (taxpayer supported) in Tempe.  There were approximately 50 cars in the lot.  There are usually about a dozen cars in the lot (staff), and the AHS has 32 board members.

A few students and parents attended the meeting to ask for the return of the mineral museum. An AHS staff member told them the mineral museum would be "restored next year."

As revealed in prior AHS board meeting minutes, the board votes themselves free lunches.  During the annual meeting, there was a catering truck in the Marley parking lot. Did the AHS feed themselves with public funds?


Some cars bore AHS specialty license plates.  The numbers do not seem to go much over 100.  Did the AHS ever sell enough plates to allow taxpayers to recover the cost of designing and producing the special plates?